John's Journal
Special Guest Author From Breckenridge High School12/3/2010
Here’s a special treat: An essay written by one of our talented Minnesota high school students. Turner Blaufuss is a junior at Breckenridge High School, a member of the Cowboys’ football team and a skilled writer. He is a member of the MSHSL’s Student Sports Information Directors program, writing stories about his school on the Breckenridge page on this website.

After his team’s football season ended last month, Turner wrote about his experiences on the team. His story was published in the nearby Wahpeton (N.D.) Daily News, and we are passing it on here so you can enjoy it, too.

“Living the dream like a modern-day Cowboy.”

By Turner Blaufuss

On Oct. 27, 2009, the Breckenridge Cowboys were knocked out of the first round of the playoffs at home by the lower seeded Holdingford Huskers. I was in the locker room crying with my teammates and I looked into the eyes of the juniors and my fellow sophomores. We were all thinking the same thing that night: we need to get better.

Many people think being on a football field is the greatest feeling in the world. If someone was to tell me that, I’d kindly disagree. I would tell them that it is a wonderful feeling, but the only thing better is walking on to a football field wearing a green jersey with Cowboys printed on the front with all your best friends. The feeling of when you get your chance to step on Cowboy Field under the lights on a Friday night is unexplainable.

Being on the Breckenridge football team is a little different than other football teams. Other teams don’t play “Should’ve been a Cowboy” by Toby Keith in the locker room four straight times after a victory and then follow it up with other various country or rap songs. Other teams don’t jump up on their seats in the locker room and bang the top of the lockers as hard as they can one time for each point scored on their head coach’s cue. I am blessed with the best coaching staff in the world. Our coaches always have us prepared and help us get better every single day with constant tips and encouragement. The coaches deserve tons of credit for all the time they put in to making us better.

One of my favorite memories of the year was after we won our first playoff game; we had a team meal at coach Chad Fredericksen’s house.

The reason it was so memorable was because I wanted to see the inside of his new house and our whole team got to sign our names on his garage wall. That day, I felt closer to my team and coaching staff and I felt part of a second family.

My teammates are equally encouraging. The thing our team needed was leadership and that happened to be this group of seniors’ specialty. Our seniors constantly encouraged the new varsity players to hit the weight room and that surely made us a better team.

I’ll never forget how I felt when there was only a couple people left finishing our conditioning and our seniors would get everybody cheering the last few on.

The seniors couldn’t have been better leaders this year and they’ll surely be missed.

Our team lost in the Section championship game to Ottertail Central and for the second year in a row, I sobbed with my teammates. The cries seemed to have more pain and sorrow in that the seniors would never get to play the game they’ve loved since they were kids ever again. We had worked so hard in the off-season and just like that, season’s over. I hugged every senior and let him know I’ll miss him and like last year, we have another loss to motivate our team to work harder in the off-season.

This season was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve made tons of friends, grown closer to my teammates and coaches, and most importantly, I got to play the game I love for the Breckenridge Cowboys with my best friends.

I’d like to thank all the coaches for the time you’ve put in, the seniors for being the best leaders anybody could ever ask for, the parents for being supportive and cooking our incredible team meals, and our fans that make high school football some of the best days of our lives.

Who knows? Maybe we can win a couple more next year. Go Cowboys.

Have a comment for Turner Blaufuss? Reach him at: blaufuss_3@hotmail.com
(Final Update) Reports From Board of Directors Meeting …12/2/2010
The gavel has fallen and the meeting has been adjourned. Feel like discussing what happened? Go to the MSHSL Facebook page and post a comment.


12:10 update...

The board has approved a change in the structure of the state wrestling tournament, going from four days to three days. The change reduces the number of days participants will need to be in attendance at the tournament (while missing school), and also reduces expenses.

Through the MSHSL’s conference-placement process, Grand Rapids has been assigned to the Central Lakes Conference and Duluth East and Denfeld have been placed in the Mississippi 8 Conference. None of the schools or conferences filed appeals of those decisions, and the board has approved those placements.


11:30 update ...

The board has unanimously approved several details for Zero Week football scheduling. They include: a committee of two coaches, two athletic directors and one MSHSL staff member will review and approve or deny applications to schedule Zero Week games; schools may apply to play the same Zero Week opponents for two consecutive years; teams playing Zero Week games will be allowed to practice up to three days during a mandatory regular-season bye week.


11:07 update ...

Two guests spoke to the board about football…

Rochester Century athletic director Mark Kuisle, a past board president, asked the board to "slow down" on the Zero Week concept. He suggested the board instead consider adding a bye week for every team during the season. He also said Class 5A football "needs to be fixed" because of the size disparity between 5A schools, in which teams can play teams from schools that are more than twice their size. Kuisle suggested adding an additional football class, with the largest 16 or 36 schools.

The second speaker, Faribault athletic director and Region 1AA chairman Ken Hubert, spoke against Zero Week. An early Zero Week document suggested that teams would not be allowed to practice (other than conditioning, weight-lifting,etc.) during the bye week that would be mandatory for teams playing Zero Week games. In the course of meetings by a football Task Force, the language now allows teams to practice for a maximum of three days during their bye week.

“As a region, we are unanimous in our opposition to that change,” Hubert said,asking that the original language be restored to the proposal.


Original post ... The meeting is underway. Immediate updates are being posted on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ll post updates here as the meeting goes on.
Previewing Thursday’s MSHSL Board of Directors Meeting12/1/2010
The MSHSL Board of Directors will hold its December meeting on Thursday at MSHSL headquarters in Brooklyn Center. Football will be a focus of the meeting, with two of the three action items on the agenda dealing directly with football.

The board has previously approved the implementation of Zero Week football games, allowing schools with scheduling difficulties to play their first game of the season one week earlier than the traditional start of the season. Thursday, the board will discuss specific provisions of the Zero Week policy, including timelines for Zero Week game applications and specific rules regarding bye weeks that must be used by teams that play Zero Week games.

The board will also discuss football conference placements for Grand Rapids, Duluth East and Duluth Denfeld. Through the MSHSL’s placement process, Grand Rapids has been assigned to the Central Lakes Conference and Duluth East and Denfeld have been placed in the Mississippi 8 Conference.

The other action item on the agenda concerns policies for administrative regions and class and section assignments.

The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. I will post updates here on John’s Journal, as well as on the MSHSL Facebook and Twitter pages, during the meeting.
An Official Makes His Toughest Call11/30/2010
The day after Thanksgiving was, according to Dale Wakasugi, “kind of an interesting evening.”

That’s one way to describe the high school basketball official’s near-death experience. It was the second time his heart had malfunctioned during a game, and it’s a miraculous thing that Wakasugi is here to talk about it. He knows how lucky he is.

In December 2007 Wakasugi, then 49, collapsed during a game at Fridley High School. He had suffered a heart attack, he had no pulse and he was brought back to life because the school was equipped with automated external defibrillator (AED). It was used for the first time that night, delivering an electrical shock that restarted Wakasugi’s heart.

Round Two came last Friday night at Hamline University, where Wakasugi was working girls’ games at the Pat Paterson Memorial Thanksgiving Tip-Off Tournament. This was a rare night, because he worked back-to-back games. The first one, between Hopkins and White Bear Lake, was a fast-paced contest. With a very short break between games, Wakasugi and his partner, Crystal Flint, were officiating a game between Blaine and Rosemount

Near the end of the first half, Wakasugi was stationed on the baseline when he collapsed.

“It was a scary situation,” Blaine coach Steve Reiter said. “All of a sudden he was down. We ran over right away and at first I thought it was a heart attack. He was still breathing, and a doctor came down from the stands right away, luckily.”

This time it wasn’t a classic heart attack, but an electrical malfunction in Wakasugi’s heart. After his 2007 heart attack, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) was implanted in his chest. When his heart malfunctioned last week, the ICD did its job. He was unconscious for only a few seconds, and after being taken to a hospital in an ambulance and being checked out, he was home that same evening.

“I had no real ill effects, other than being tired for the next day,” he said. “I didn’t even spend the night in the hospital. How crazy is that?”

Since his 2007 experience, Wakasugi has been active in the “Anyone Can Save a Life” educational program, a joint effort of the MSHSL and Medtronic Foundation. He’s also a member of the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network, a non-profit organization that supports SCA survivors and their families, advocates for community access to AEDs and educates people about SCA and early defibrillation.

He will remain involved in those efforts, but he said his officiating career is probably over. He feels perfectly normal, in great shape to keep working basketball games. But he knows that his on-court partners, along with people who assign officials, will worry about him and the possibility of another episode.

“I don’t want to put people through that,” he said. “Even if I feel great and doctors give me medical clearance, I’ve already decided I’m probably going to just quit. It’s gotta be what’s best for the kids and the game and sport and the coaches.

“I can’t control the pace of a basketball game and I can’t pace myself. I love it, I’m passionate about it, but the decision to go forward or not was pretty easy. I don’t think it would be fair to everybody around me.”

Wakasugi wants to stay involved, possibly helping mentor and train young officials.
Apple Valley Boys’ Hockey Gets Off To A Strong Start11/30/2010
If the first game of the season is any indication of what to expect from the Apple Valley boys’ hockey team, one thing to watch for is balance.

The Eagles, who surprised some people with a run to the Class 2A state tournament semifinals last season, return a strong corps from that young team and showed their strength in defeating Bloomington Jefferson 6-3 Tuesday night at Bloomington Ice Garden. Apple Valley is No. 7 in the Let’s Play Hockey magazine 2A rankings, and Jefferson is No. 13.

The Eagles’ goals came from five players, with junior forward Trent Heuer scoring twice and getting two assists. Heuer assisted on the game’s opening goal by Hudson Fasching, last year’s leading scorer, and Heuer’s goals came in the second period as Apple Valley opened a 4-1 lead.

“We forecheck hard and see what happens,” Heuer said. “Tonight we got a couple of hardworking goals. It felt good to get two goals. We couldn’t ask for a better night.”

Last year, Apple Valley finished sixth in the Lake Conference with a 10-9 league record. But the Eagles got on a postseason roll that didn’t end until they lost to eventual state champion Edina in the state semifinals. There will be no surprising success story this year, because Apple Valley has been tagged as a team to watch.

“It just helped, going to the state tournament and knowing we had the ability to go to the next level,” Heuer said. “It feels great to get the first win. Everyone’s just looking at us now as one of the top team teams in the state.”

Apple Valley is diving right into the competitive soup, playing at third-ranked Eden Prairie on Thursday. The Eagles’ fifth game of the season, on Dec. 14, will be against No. 2 Wayzata.

Jefferson, which went 19-6-3 last season and finished the season with a loss to Edina in the Section 2 tournament, has a similarly tough early schedule, meeting Eden Prairie on Saturday and facing Wayzata on Dec. 16.

(To see a postgame video interview with Trent Heuer and a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 249
*Miles John has driven: 5,364

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn